|Monday, 23 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-04-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 9 April 2012 Issue No: 4042
 No agreement between gov't, seamen's union to avert strikeNo agreement was achieved on Sunday evening between the government and the leadership of the Pan-Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) to avert a threatened 48-hour strike by the labour group planned for the middle of Orthodox Holy Week this week.
The PNO and affiliated labour groups are expected to meet again in order to decide on whether to proceed with the strike, although no time and location was given for such a meeting.
The 48-hour strike for Tuesday and Wednesday was announced by PNO last week, and a first round of talks was held by the seamen's umbrella federation PNO with Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Thursday, although the talks were deemed unsatisfactory by PNO the following day, which also decided to go ahead with the strike as planned for April 10-11.
The strike, which comes in the middle of Holy Week before Orthodox Easter will create serious problems for holiday-makers planning to spend the holiday on various Greek islands, as well as to tourist enterprises looking to the long-awaited holiday to drum up revenues in the recession-hit country.
After the fruitless contacts on Sunday night, Diamantopoulos pointed directly at certain members of the labour union "who express the communist party's (KKE) and have pre-determined decisions; they are not interested in what the government will do or not; of if there will be cooperation and an agreement." After the talks with PNO, Diamantopoulou was expected to brief with PM Lucas Papademos at the government headquarters.
 Gov't, PASOK appeal to seamen to resume talks in bid to avert strikeThe government on Saturday appealed to the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) to resume dialogue with the government, in a bid to avert a 48-hour strike called by the Federation for Tuesday and Wednesday, in the middle of the Holy Week lead to Orthodox Easter.
Greek seamen have decided to go ahead with a 48-hour strike planned for the middle of the Orthodox Holy Week next week, after talks with the government on Thursday were deemed "unsatisfactory" by their umbrella federation PNO on Friday, and despite appeals and pressure by tourism and market organisations.
The Pan-Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) executive committee on Monday called a 48-hour nationwide strike on April 10 and 11, and the outcome of talks with development, competitiveness and shipping minister Anna Diamantopoulou was deemed unsatisfactory during a PNO meeting on Friday.
The strike, which comes in the middle of the Holy Week before Orthodox Easter will create serious problems for Easter holidaymakers planning to spend the holiday on the Greek islands, but also to tourist enterprises who were looking to the long-awaited holiday to drum up revenues in the recession-hit country.
Diamantopoulou, speaking on state NET television on Friday morning, invited the PNO to a new meeting, adding that all the relevant ministers have joined the dialogue and have submitted new, written proposals.
She said that the government will back the public interest with all means, adding that the first way is a continuation of the discussion.
She acknowledged that the seamen were right on certain demands, and conceded that it had been a mistake on the part of the preceding PASOK government, of which she was a minister (education), to abolish the autonomous Merchant Marine Ministry, adding her belief that the next government will re-establish the ministry.
Diamantopoulou said that the spearhead must be merchant shipping and investments.
PASOK spokesperson Fofi Gennimata also appealed on Saturday to the PNO to return to the dialogue, stressing that in these difficult times for Greece not a single euro must be lost by the Greek economy.
She said that the coastal shipping lines must remain open, warning that a strike in the middle of the Holy Week would strike a severe blow to the islands and to Greek tourism.
 PM to hold meetings with ministers Sunday eveningPrime minister Lucas Papademos was due to hold separate meetings with Cabinet members on Sunday evening, following his return from a 2-day state visit to Cyprus. Papademos was due to meet first with finance minister Filippos Sahinidis and ministry secretary general Elias Plaskovitis to discuss the recapitalisation of the Greek banks. Afterwards, he was due to meet with development and shipping minister Anna Diamantopoulou and transports minister Makis Voridis on the 48-hour seamen's strike scheduled for the middle of the coming week. Earlier, Diamantopoulou was holding talks with the Pan-Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) in a last-ditch effort to avert the strike, planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, in the middle of the Holy Week leading to Orthodox Easter.
 FinMin sees May 6 as most likely election dateFinance minister Filippos Sahinidis opined that May 6 is the most likely date for the general elections, speaking on state NET television station on Sunday. Sahinidis said that the government's legislative work will be completed next week, adding that the determination of the election date is the prerogative of prime minister Lucas Papademos and the parties supporting his interim government.
 Venizelos slams SamarasPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos warned of a danger of lack of governance, in a statement to Kathimerini newspaper appearing in the Sunday edition.
Asked if the country may be governed in the event that the electoral outcome turns out as reflected in opinion polls indicating a decimation of the political forces, Venizelos said "absolutely not", adding: "The citizens need to realise that Greece's remaining in the euro is directly linked with the new agreement. The elections are not a universal opinion poll, they are the hour of decisions".
He said the quandary of the elections is whether "we will remain in Europe or will find ourselves in major misadventures", and criticised New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras of "petty political mentalities", charging that due to Samaras' attitude, the Papademos government model has been deemed unsatisfactory.
 Samaras adamant: Elections on May 6New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras was adamant that early general elections will be held on May 6, next month, addressing a party rally on Saturday evening in an indoor venue in the working class west Athens district of Egaleo, stressing: "elections will take place, whether they want it or not; we do not fear the people, it is others who are hiding". "Greece will succeed, we can proceed differently," he said, adding: "We did away with (former prime minister) George Papandreou, now we will do away with PASOK." Samaras further ruled out any co-governance between ND and PASOK, explaining: "Co-governance is desired by three types of interests: First, PASOK itself. Second, all those vested interests and guilds that do not want anything to change in Greece. Third, all those inside and outside Greece that want tomorrow's government to be weak and controllable." ND, he continued, has a clear-cut goal for the elections: "We are asking for a clear mandate from the Greek people in order to change everything." Moreover, he said he has been vindicated in his predictions with respect to the Memorandum. "From the beginning we warned that the recipe was wrong, and it proved to be wrong. We warned that the crisis would deepen and debt would increase, and this was confirmed. I told them in Brussels that I have no problem with the targets of the programme, but I cannot arrive every so often with my hand extended for the next tranche. I was alone in saying this because PASOK -- Papandreou, Venizelos, Papaconstantinou -- were assuring them that the programme was working. "The Papandreou government made a fatal mistake when it decided to hold a referendum. The destruction was completed because Greece was fully isolated by Europe," Samaras added. Explaining his own reversal for the second Memorandum, Samaras said Papandreou and PASOK had brought the country before an immense problem, making the debt unsustainable and leading the country to unprecedented international isolation and deepening the recession. With his own policy, Samaras added, the two first problems have already been dealt with: The debt was shaved and Greece stopped being isolated, while "we have already sent the message to our lenders that we will ask that there is a recovery". "PASOK tied us up hand and foot, whereas I am trying to untie the bonds," he said. On taxation, he said that it is neither fair nor developmental that the same people are paying excessive taxes and surtaxes over and over. Outlining his own programme, Samaras said that the first priority is recovery, the second is to remedy the excessive injustices in order to have social cohesion, the third is the safety of the citizens, zero tolerance for crime and halting illegal migration, and the fourth is to restore among the people a sense of justice. On speculation that new austerity measures will be decided in June, Samaras stood firm on measures of equal results and a clampdown on wasteful spending, adding that recovery will arise from the utilisation of the EU funds of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) that have remained unused, ensurance of liquidity in the market with the return of all the money owed by the state to the enterprises, and with a timetable for the reduction of taxes, beginning with a reduction of the tax rates to 15 percent. Samaras further said that he will set up a Parliamentary commission to investigate why country reached the point of the Memorandum, noting that all that he is promising is more or less an elimination of the consequences of the Memorandum, adding that "this cannot be done hand-in-hand with those (PASOK) who led the country to the Memorandum". Finally, he also attacked new PASOK leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, calling him "one of the main authors of the Memorandum", and noting that Venizelos had predicted that with the Memorandum a "bottom" was being put in the barrel whereas everything fell apart, and added that even some of the leading cadres of PASOK were accusing Venizelos today.
 PASOK reactionIn a later response, PASOK spokesperson Fofi Gennimata charged that Samaras' line is "unfortunately fueling blind policies that endanger the Greek people's sacrifices." She also claimed that the ND leader was exhibiting a vain language and a complete lack of self-criticism, along with demagogic promises with half-truths.
 ND can achieve self-sufficient government, Dimas saysNew Democracy aims at a self-sufficient government and can achieve it, high-ranking ND cadre and foreign minister Stavros Dimas said, in an interview with RealNews newspaper.
He added, however, that wide support and the broadest possible consensus is needed, given that the changes that need to be made in all sectors are immense and deep-rooted.
Dimas did not rule out the prospect of a new election if the coming elections do not produce a self-sufficient government, stressing that "the country needs to have a viable government that speedily take and apply decisions, otherwise the situation can become much worse".
 Papariga: New votes for KKE mean new power to the peopleCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said that new votes for the KKE mean new power for the people, addressing a rally in the Athens suburb of Geraka on Sunday, and stressed the need for the forces of bipartisanism to lose votes in the working class neighborhoods. With a strong KKE, the mainstream parties will be truly terrified the day after the elections, Papariga said, and reiterated charges that PASOK and New Democracy (ND) were trying to intimidate the people in view of the elections. She once again ruled out any post-electoral collaboration in a coalition government, noting that there are many well-intentioned people who want a governmental solution with the participation of the KKE.
 Papariga winds up tour of KozaniCommunist Party of Greece) KKE leader Aleka Papariga called for a strong labour and popular movement as the only solution and hope for Greece to move forward, winding up a two-day tour of Kozani prefecture with an address to a rally in the town of Kozani on Friday night.
In the tough electoral battle ahead, we call on the people who in their hearts agree with our policy -- the labour and popular authority, disengagement from the EU and unilateral write-off of the debt -- to cast their vote for the KKE, she said.
 Tsipras: Political system is in a panicThe political system is in a panic, while its "political personnel" place satisfaction of the country's lenders and not of the Greek working people as their priority, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) leader Alexis Tsipras told a rally in Pallini, Attica prefecture, on Friday night.
He strongly criticised PASOK and ND over the special escrow account passed recently in parliament for the priority repayment of the lenders, and also over the compromise with Siemens passed in parliament, adding that "the time has come to rid ourselves of them".
Tsipras said that the situation in the Greek society has reached a marginal point, noting the recent public suicide of a retired pharmacist in Syntagma Square and the serious injury of the Greek Photojournalists Union president Marios Lolos by riot police during an Athens demonstration last week, and accused the government of a "deficit in democracy".
He further called for the forces of the Left and the anti-Memorandum and anti-Neoliberal forces to unite and take up their big historic responsibility.
 Tsipras proposes Left-Ecologists election collaboration in single-seat constituenciesCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) leader Alexis Tsipras issued an invitation for electoral collaboration among the Left and ecology parties in the country's eight single-seat constituencies, in an interview with To Vima newspaper appearing on Sunday. Tsipras said that "our difference courses are, unfortunately, tending to give to Mr. Samaras (New Democracy leader Antonis) the 50-seat bonus. Let's not give away the single-seat constituencies as well". He said that SYRIZA states in advance that it wants just one of the eight single-seat districts for itself, while in the remaining seven it will back the other participating parties. "We could, for example, agree that in four of the constituencies we will all back the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) ticket, in two the DIMAR (Democratic Left) ticket, in one the Ecologists-Greens ticket, and in one the SYRIZA ticket," Tsipras proposed.
 Karatzaferis addresses rally in HalkidaThe results of the elections must be such so as to secure for the country people who will be able to agree the following day, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis told a press conference in Halkida on Sunday after addressing a party rally. Karatzaferis predicted that a self-sufficient government will not arise from the elections, calling self-sufficiency "a midsummer night's dream". Addressing the rally earlier, Karatzaferis referred to a prospective collaboration with other parties after the elections, opining that "no one who wants to govern can take a step without LAOS", but added that he will not collaborate with anyone and if cooperation was sought "they can be the 'passengers', because we will be at the helm of the country". The LAOS further pledged that the day after the elections, if elected, he will "open the doors and kick out the illegal immigrants", noting that a day earlier his son's home had been burglarized and recited a discussion he had with the police station director, who told him that "6,000 Pakistanis live here", to whom he replied "In one month, there will not be one". "This scourge cannot continue. Everyone today is saying what I had been saying 10 years ago. We now have illnesses that we had defeated. The AIDS sufferers alone have increased by 1000 (one-thousand) percent. The Greeks cannot continue to live in fear of robberies, blackmail, rape," he said. He further advocated strengthening Greece's relations with Russia, adding that Greece must turn its interest elsewhere, "such as to Russia, which has immense capital for investments", while he also opined that it is only a matter of time before a "hot incident" arises with Turkey as the protagonist.
 Kouvelis demands immediate announcement of elections dateDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis demanded the immediate announcement of the election date, addressing a meeting of the party's candidate MPs on Sunday morning, warning that there was no sense in perpetuation of the rumors of a postponement of the elections. Kouvelis criticized the two mainstream parties -- PASOK and New Democracy (ND) -- saying that the parties that led the country to the crisis cannot present themselves today as the solution to the problem, whereas DIMAR is a responsible political force that refuses to accept the dilemma that either the same policy is followed or Greece will go bankrupt. On Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) Alexis Tsipras' call for cooperation with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), DIMAR and the Ecologists-Greens in the single-seat constituencies, DIMAR sources said that this was a "communications-type proposal" that could not progress, given that if the prerequisites existed for such a cooperation, it would be done on a nationwide scale and not locally, thus rejecting the proposal. DIMAR will release its elections platform on Monday, while a group of 11-12 former PASOK cadres are expected to announce on Tuesday that will ally themselves with DIMAR. The group has set up the New Socialdemocracy Movement and, according to sources, none of its members will be a candidate for parliament on the DIMAR tickets.
 Opinion poll: Unemployment Greeks' biggest fear for the futureUnemployment is the Greeks' number one fear for the future, according to an ALCO opinion poll appearing in the latest issue of Crash magazine.
Specifically, 42 percent of the respondents said that unemployment was their biggest fear for the future, in a nationwide poll conducted by ALCO on a sampling of 1,200 adults from March 20 to 27.
The second fear for the future was the inadequacy of the politicians (26 percent), followed by corruption (15 percent), concession of Greece's national sovereignty (11 percent), and the aspirations of the foreign lenders (5 percent).
Also, 44 percent of the respondents opined that there had been no margins for negotiating the Memorandum, against 40 percent who were of the opposite opinion, while 16 percent had no view.
However, 45 percent of the respondents said that the most critical criterion for their choice of preferred party in the coming elections is the need for Greece to remain in the euro, against 41 percent whose main selection criterion will be to protest against the Memorandum and that parties that voted for it.
Regarding voter intent, 25 percent of the respondents opted for New Democracy (ND), followed by 16.5 percent for PASOK, 10 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 9 percent for the Democratic Left, 8 percent for the Independent Greeks, 1.5 percent for SYRIZA, 3.5 percent for LAOS, 3 percent for the Ecologists-Greens, 2.5 percent each for Democratic Alliance and the ultra-right Chryssi Avghi and 1.7 percent for the Social Agreement for Greece in Europe, while 9.5 percent were undecided.
 Twelve foreign nationals arrested for extortion of brothelsTwelve Albanian national have been arrested for extorting owners of brothels in the environs of Athens' downtown Omonia Square, with their "take" estimated at half a million euros annually.
Police told AMNA that the ring members extorted money from the brothel owners for "protection", and set fire to the brothels of the owners that refused to pay, for intimidation.
Police arrested seven Albanians believed to be members of the ring, and another five Albanians against whom court rulings for incarceration were outstanding.
The 12 arrestees were taken before an Athens prosecutor on Saturday.
 Driver of abandoned hashish-filled car arrested, is escaped convictThe driver of a car who abandoned his vehicle -- in which 135 kilos of hashish and a Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifle were subsequently found -- and fled after a chase by police on Wednesday has been arrested, and is a 31-year-old escaped Albanian inmate from a prison on Crete, police said on Saturday.
The incident occurred on the Athens-Patras stretch of the national highway on Wednesday when police officers signaled to a car moving over the speed limit to stop. The driver did not stop and a pursuit followed. The driver later abandoned the car and fled on foot.
A search of the car's cabin and the boot revealed 135 kilos hashish in 124 packages, a semi-automatic rifle and three cartridges with 90 shells.
Police said Saturday that they located and arrested the driver, a 31-year-old Albanian, against whom charges of forging certifications, drug possession and illegal possession of arms.
Police said that during an organised operation along the Athens-Patras national highway following a lengthy surveillance in Athens, Corinth Security Police made a spot check on a vehicle driven by the Albanian and with a 23-year-old woman from Estonia also on board. During the check, the Albanian presented to police a fake ID card and forged driver's license and was arrested.
A subsequent investigation turned up that the arrestee had presented bogus personal details and nationality, and was in fact an escaped inmate from the Nea Alikarnassos prison on Crete, who failed to return to the facility after a three-day leave received last summer.
The man was serving a sentence of 13 years and 7 months on drug charges.
A further investigation also turned up that he was the driver of the car abandoned with the hashish and the weaponry after a police chase.
A second Albanian, who was driving another car and acting as a lookout during Wednesday's incident, is wanted.
The Estonian woman has also been arrested, charged with harboring a criminal, given that she knew that the Albanian was an escaped convict and was putting him up at her residence in the Neos Kosmos district of Athens.
The two will appear before a Corinth prosecutor.
 Two illegal migrants arrested at Kalamata Airport for attempting to travel to Germany with forged documentsTwo illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, aged 22 and 23, were arrested at Kalamata Airport on Sunday for attempting to travel to Germany with forged Czech Republic documents.
During a travel documents check the two illegal immigrants, who were due to board a flight for Munich with a stopover in Thessaloniki, presented forged IDs of the Czech Republic, which were seized, together with a service note from the Orestiada Border Guard division and another from the Zakynthos security police giving the two men 30 days to leave Greece.
The arrestees will be taken before a Kalamata prosecutor.
 180 kilos hashish seized, 2 arrestedA quantity of 180 kilos of hashish was seized by police on Sunday and two people were arrested after a chase in the Stanou region of Aetoloakarnania prefecture, while a third suspect was wanted. Police arrested a 24-year-old Albanian and a 23-year-old Greek after a car chase, and found 180 kilos of hashish hidden in the car. The car's Bulgarian owner is wanted.
 Rain and wind on MondayThe weather is forecast to take a turn for the worse on Monday, with rain and storms initially in the west and northwest and gradually spreading to the rest of the country, while temperatures will also decline. Cloudy in Athens, turning to local showers and sporadic storms in the afternoon, with northeasterly winds of 4-6 beaufort velocity, and temperatures ranging from 10C to 16C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with local showers, northerly winds of 3-5 beaufort velocity and temperatures ranging from 06C to 15C.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesAthens' Sunday newspapers at a glance Latest opinion polls ahead of the elections and speculation on whether the elections will produce a self-sufficient government were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "PASOK-ND the problem - The solution is the Left".
AVRIANI: "New haircut of the debt by 60 percent".
DIMOKRATIA: "The sad story of an 80-year-old small-scale bond-holder".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Political favors to the very end by the 'deep' PASOK".
EPOCHI: "Bipartisan suppression".
ETHNOS: "Elections an enigma".
EXPRESS: "Companies' inability to settle their debts".
FREE SUNDAY: "Bipartisanism the ideal suicide".
KATHIMERINI: "Venizelos: Danger of lack of governance for the country".
KERDOS: "The truth about the generic medicines".
LOGOS: "10 'surtaxes' by the end of the year".
NIKI: "Why they fear bankruptcy after the elections".
PROTO THEMA: "They're 'leasing' the Greek Police to private concerns".
RIZOSPASTIS: "No government can solve the people's problems".
TO ARTHRO: "Elections thriller". TO VIMA: "Chaos scenarios for the 'morning after'."
VRADYNI: "Heavy and hazardous work - Secure a larger pension".
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